ALBANY—Justice Thomas McNamara has punted again.
He huddled behind closed doors with lawyers representing both sides in the State Senate leadership dispute, before announcing in court that he was, for the fourth time, giving both sides more time to negotiate.
"During the course of that conference several issues were discussed, and based upon the discussions that were held, and my understanding of the negotiative process that is under way, the matter is going to be adjourned until one o'clock," he said from the bench.
Liz Benjamin giggled audibly in the back of the court room.
"The laughs that I hear are understandable. And I'll be honest with you: coming out here today and going through this ritual is not something I'm really getting enjoyment out of."
McNamara said he was satisfied that "progress is being made" and "the system that I represent is not being abused," justifying his continued refusal to get involved. In less than five minutes, he banged the gavel and the case was adjourned.
"At some point it's going to reach a position where, and I've told the attorneys this, I will do my job, but with the hope of a resolution that could be reached by the parties I am willing to allow it to continue to go forward, and Mr. McLoughlin I suggest you get hearing aids," he said to John McLoughlin, the long-tenured WTEN reporter. He retorted that the judge should speak up.
The Democratic lawyers–all nine of them, by my count–declined to comment leaving the court room. Republican attorney John Ciampoli did not comment substantively, deferring to his clients.
Peter Kiernan, David Paterson's counsel, said this: "We are calling the leaders, immediately, to try to get them to convene. The goal is to get an agreement on what we call a stipulated session, whereby the parties would come into session and pass legislation that has to be passed, without prejudice to their respective positions in the courts. And we're going to find out if that is something that the Republican leadership will agree to; the Democratic leadership has indicated that it might."